Maiden Top 10 for Ridley-Holloway

AT ROCKINGHAMTotal Control Racing’s Jonathan Ridley-Holloway secured his first top 10 finish of the ELF Renault Clio Cup season at Rockingham yesterday, Sunday, 13th April, and instantly promised further improvements as he gets more and more comfortable within the ranks of the UK’s most competitive, one-make, saloon car championship.Qualifying on Saturday, 12th April, saw the 23-year-old produce his most impressive performance at the wheel of a Clio since graduating to the category during the 2007 ELF Renault Clio Winter Cup, a best time of 1m 31.723 seconds (76.14mph) placing him seventh on the grid for the first of the weekend’s two races.Come the start of round three though on Sunday morning, the Barnstaple racer found himself starting one place further ahead on row three after team-mate Alex MacDowall was served with a penalty for a technical infringement.At the beginning of the race, Jonathan got away well in his, A4 Apparel and Bond Oxborough Phillips backed car and although squeezed out at Deene Hairpin as he aimed to stay out of trouble, he slipped a few spots to ninth place.Thankfully unscathed, he climbed to eighth through Pif-Paf and into lap two looked well placed to make further progress as the race unfolded. The Safety Car then came out onto track at the start of the third tour for a couple of laps.With the field bunched up, the re-start came on lap five and a great battle ensued between sixth-placed Rob Boston, Lee Pattison in seventh and Jonathan close behind in eighth position.The TCR ace certainly looked to have the speed to challenge those ahead, his best lap of the race just eight 10ths of a second shy of eventual race winner Ben Winrow’s pace, but he wasn’t quite able to make the breakthrough he wanted.On lap 14, light rain started to fall to throw another variable into the mix and as the pack ahead of Jonathan started to shuffle, the North Devon racer could see the potential for some opportunities to fall his way. Side-by-side with seventh placed Pattison on lap 15 out of Deene Hairpin, Jonathan frustratingly had to tuck back in at Yentwood.Having held a solid top eight for almost the entire race, he unfortunately lost out to Aron Smith at the very last turn, Brook Chicane, on lap 16 and so was forced to settle for ninth. Nonetheless, it was a good result and a welcome haul of championship points.“The main thing for me was to finish inside the top 10 and come away from the race without any damage”, commented Jonathan, “I wanted to get a decent start, stay out of trouble at the first hairpin and then challenge where possible. I had a few good attempts at moving up the order but I’m not too unhappy with ninth.”Jonathan’s second fastest qualifying lap, determining his grid slot for the fourth round, was some way short of what he had hoped for but this was purely down to the weather.With a number of quick drivers only able to squeeze one true flying lap in before the skies opened above the 1.94-mile track, the starting order for the second of the weekend’s events proved to be unpredictable.Lining up with the 17th best time, which became 16th on the grid due to McDowall’s aforementioned penalty, Jonathan got away fairly cleanly but a major collision mere yards behind him at Turn One resulted in the Safety Car being deployed for five laps.Desperately lucky to avoid being caught up in the four-car incident, Jonathan entered lap two in 17th place and that’s where he would remain for the duration despite his best efforts to make up places.  Reflecting on the second race, Jonathan said: “Rockingham is pretty difficult to overtake on, there’s no doubt about that. I’m so thankful I wasn’t involved in the Turn One accident. At one point, I thought I was going to be collected as I could see what was happening in my mirrors. It all unfolded about a metre behind me.“Luckily we avoided that and brought the car home in one piece. At Donington for the next two rounds we’ll definitely be up there, I’m sure I can run with the top guys – I’ve no doubts about that at all. I just need to be more consistent in qualifying and get higher up the grid. It’s not been a bad weekend though, I’ve been pretty happy with my pace.”The 2008 ELF Renault Clio Cup resumes on 3rd/4th May at Donington Park National Circuit in Leicestershire for the fifth and sixth rounds of the season.